Poets and roses

To Juan Ramón Jiménez
who sends me such preciosas rosas

… Here is the closed door
Prison to someone’s roses? …
The surprise with the scent
Leave my chamber enchanted!

Alone yet not alone within these walls,
The purest gifts in the air
Offer sweet, mute glory –
There I breathe another poet.

Madrid, Miércoles 21 de Mayo 1929 – Paul Valéry
Translated by Denise DeVries


A Juan Ramón Jiménez
que me envoi tan preciosas rosas

… Voici la porte refermée
Prison des roses de quelqu’un? …
La surprise avec le parfum
Me font une chambre charmée!

Seul et non seul entre ces murs,
Dans l’air les presents les plus purs
Font douceur et gloire muette—
J’y respire un autre poète

Madrid, Miércoles 21 de Mayo 1929 – Paul Valéry

Paul Valéry and Juan Ramón Jiménez were both influenced by French symbolism, especially the work of Stéphane Mallarmé and William Butler Yeats. Did Jiménez send roses to Valéry? I don’t know. He did write a large number of poems with “rosas” in the title, such as Rosa íntima, Sol y Rosa, Rosas de cada día, and his posthumous volume, Con la rosa del mundo.
Jiménez and Valéry have something else in common. Valéry was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 12 different years. Jiménez won in 1956.


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